The Tulsa World's Eric Bailey was nice enough to discuss the 2010 Golden Hurricane football squad with Miner Rush. Eric's Tulsa blog is the best spot online to find information on the Golden Hurricane. Also, his C-USA Insider provides a great look at the conference as a whole, and, personally, is one of my favorite sources for C-USA news. The full Tulsa preview, Inside the Eye, is now up.
Miner Rush: Tulsa has co-offensive coordinators in Herb Hand and Chad Morris. Morris had a heck of a reputation as a high school coach at Lake Travis, where he coached current Texas QB Garrett Gilbert. Who's calling the plays? Will quarterback G.J. Kinne run the ball as often as he did last season?
Eric Bailey: Chad Morris was brought in to run the offense and allow Graham to take care of the defense. He will have full control of the offense, but work in conjunction with co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand in game planning. Morris would not have likely taken the job if he wasn't given full control, especially with the resume that he's established. Kinne will run the ball at times, but I think the coaches want him to manage the offense more and let the playmakers make plays.
MR: Kinne posted solid passing numbers in his first season as TU's starter, but the offensive line clearly had problems protecting him (44 sacks). Has TU's line play improved from last season?
Bailey: TU's offensive line was hurt with injuries to returning starters Tyler Holmes and Clint Anderson last year, which thrust some inexperienced players into the starting lineup. That line was young and inexperienced last season and it showed. The coaches say that it's a point of emphasis this year; any success they have will start up front.
MR: Everyone around the C-USA knows about Kinne and Damaris Johnson. Who's the best player on the team that we don't know about? Any new recruits, transfers, or someone waiting in the wings that you expect to have a breakout season?
Senior Charles Clay, the team's H-back, has had an injury plagued career but showed his potential with a 1,000-yard receiving season as a freshman. He's very talented and, in some NFL Draft boards for next season, is rated the No. 2 fullback prospect. He is someone that the team needs to get the football to for the Hurricane to have success.
MR: Keith Patterson is entering his 5th season at TU's defensive coordinator. It's very rare to see a coordinator stay anywhere for that long. What adjustments will Patterson make to his defense this season? Who steps in to replace John Destin?
Patterson, in fact, has been on the Tulsa staff since 2003, Steve Kragthorpe's first season. He was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2006 when Todd Graham went to Rice and nearly went to Texas A&M as linebackers coach this off-season. Patterson is overseeing a team that's recruited speed in the secondary. Many of the recruits were offensive skill players that are being moved to defense because of their physical abilities. Cornerback is a concern, but fifth-year senior Charles Davis is moving from safety to cornerback this season.
MR: Tulsa might have the most difficult schedule in the league and the most difficult games all seem to be on the road (at ECU in Week 1, at Oklahoma State, at SMU, at Notre Dame, and at Houston). With a schedule like that, what are "reasonable expectations" for TU fans to have about this year's squad? In your eyes, what will it take for TU to have a "successful" season in 2010?
Tulsa could have a much better team than last year, but finish with the same record as last season (5-7). The schedule is brutal. Playing in a sold-out stadium against the two-time defending champs and a new coach will be tough. OSU will be talented, especially with Dana Holgorsen as the offensive coordinator. Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame. TU has only won once in Dallas since the early 1990s and Houston put 70 points on the Hurricane in their last trip down there. A successful season will be making any bowl game. Last year was the first in five seasons that the team had to stay home.
Thanks again Eric for taking the time to talk with The Rush!
Thirsty for More? Check out the other C-USA Previews From Miner Rush
Bombs Away: A Preview of the 2010 Houston Cougars Football Team
Great Expectations: Talking Houston Football with Dustin from Scott & Holman
Sam's Town: A Preview of the 2010 Rice Owls Football Team
Wise Owl: Talking Rice Football with Jeffrey Martin of the Houston Chronicle